Friday, September 7, 2012

Emma: A Book Review

There are NO SPOILERS in this book review. Enjoy! (:

"There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they do for themselves."

Jane Austen's Emma is one that has been sitting on my reading list for years, but constantly gets passed. I finally got myself to pick it up last week and found it difficult to put down. Jane Austen is a literary goddess. She writes beautifully. And I've even heard that she writes similarly in her personal letters to her loved ones as she does for her novels. I can only wish to write as elegantly as she does.

(photographed: Jane Austen's Emma)

The back cover description of Emma reads:

"Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen's most flawless work."

I'm fairly embarrassed to say that Emma is only the second novel I have read by Austen, the other being Pride and Prejudice (one of my favorites). While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, both in language and style, and plot, it does not succeed Pride and Prejudice in my eyes.

Sometimes I get strange looks when I say this, but I think Jane Austen has a good sense of humor. People tend to be confused on how her writing is at all funny. I find this is due to her subtlety. I am thoroughly amused every time Miss Bates comes on the page, similar to how Mr. Bennet of Pride and Prejudice made me laugh. Everything about Austen's language is just lovely to read.

I think my favorite character was surprisingly Emma herself. While Emma is certainly a manipulative character, I found her thoroughly amusing and it was refreshing to hear her express a distinct lack of interest in marrying and her preference in meddling in others' lives.

The pace of Emma is rather slow, and can be found boring if your preference is conflict. I found the pace rather relaxing and enjoyable but I'm sure many people will disagree (especially considering I've heard many complaints about the pacing in Pride and Prejudice, one that I consider has much more conflict than Emma). I enjoyed many windy nights, reading Emma in bed with my warm cup of tea. I suppose, in that sense, I would call it a comfort book.

Emma was an enjoyable read that I definitely plan on rereading in the future. It's one of those books that I know I will only appreciate more with each reading.

"I have never been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall."

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